July 14, 2024
Industry News

Classic Find: 1968 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Custom Holiday Sedan Unearthed in the Junkyard

The period between 1965-1970 saw GM’s full-size B Platform become one of the company’s most successful endeavors, with nearly 13 million cars riding on this platform. Each of GM’s U.S. car divisions (excluding Cadillac) had their own B-Bodies during this time, ranging from the Chevrolet Biscayne to the Buick Wildcat. In 1968, Oldsmobile sat just below Buick on the GM “Ladder of Success,” and the top-of-the-line Olds B-Body that year was the Delta 88 Custom Holiday Sedan four-door hardtop. This Junkyard Gem we’re featuring today is one of those classic cars, discovered in a Denver self-service yard last winter.

The distinction between the prestige lines of GM divisions was becoming less clear by the late 1960s. While you could purchase a Chevy Caprice at a higher price than an Olds Delmont 88 and then add options to surpass the cost of a Buick LeSabre, the perceived luxury levels remained intact. An Oldsmobile owner still exuded more class than a Chevy or Pontiac owner, though a Buick owner might have looked down on an Olds driver.

Most GM cars in 1968 were powered by engines from their respective divisions, before the era of the “Chevymobile” lawsuits. This meant that the Olds 88 came with a genuine Rocket V8 engine, such as the Quadrajet-fed 455-cubic-inch (7.5-liter) Rocket that generated 365 horsepower and an impressive 510 pound-feet of torque. The ’68 Olds Toronado, on the other hand, had a 455 engine producing 400 horsepower.

Although these were gross power numbers, the Delta 88 was still a quick and powerful car for its time. While a 1968 full-size Chevrolet could be equipped with a potent 427-cubic inch big-block V8, even Buick’s 430 couldn’t match the Delta 88’s torque. However, Buick later introduced a 455 engine that surpassed the Olds in torque.

The 1968 Delta 88 was a gas guzzler that required premium fuel and likely didn’t achieve great fuel economy. However, these concerns were not a priority for Oldsmobile buyers until certain geopolitical events in 1973. Opting for the base three-on-the-tree manual transmission with a 310hp 455 engine allowed for the use of regular gasoline.

Loaded with options, the out-the-door cost of this Delta 88 would have far exceeded its $3,721 MSRP. Extras like the four-barrel 455 engine, automatic transmission, power steering, and air conditioning significantly added to the final price.

This car features optional power windows, indicating the original buyer’s desire for a fully-equipped vehicle.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Oldsmobile drew inspiration from American fighter jets for naming its models, with the Delta series taking cues from aircraft like the F-102 Delta Dagger. The use of aviation-themed names was a common practice, with models like the Cutlass and Starfire also referencing fighter jets. The history behind these names ties back to a time when GM wielded significant influence in the automotive industry.

This specific car was manufactured at GM’s original Fairfax Assembly plant in Kansas City, where B-25 Mitchell bombers were built during World War II before GM acquired the facility. The plant also saw the assembly of F-84F Thunderstreaks alongside automobiles in the early 1950s.

While this Delta 88 may not be a top choice for restoration due to its interior condition and the limited enthusiast interest in hardtop four-doors from this era, it remains a significant piece of automotive history.

FAQ

Q: Was the Delta 88 known for its powerful engine?

A: Yes, the Delta 88 came equipped with a potent Rocket V8 engine that delivered impressive performance for its time.

Conclusion

Oldsmobile’s Delta 88 from 1968 exemplifies the luxury and performance that defined GM’s full-size B Platform during that era. Despite its gas-guzzling nature and hefty price tag with options, the Delta 88 remains a classic symbol of automotive excellence from a bygone era.

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